Children and adults alike witnessed the shocking Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol. It exacerbated the traumatic experience Americans are already living through on a daily basis during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

A desire to help ease Eastonites’ anxieties and to address their concerns prompted Devon Wible and Sarah Lehberger to invite community and state leaders to participate in a panel discussion series they named “Come Together Easton.”

Part of being a healthy community and caring for each other sometimes requires having difficult conversations and finding common ground and understanding, the two Easton residents believe.

“We are more alike than we are different, and in this politically charged time, it is more important than ever for us to begin building bridges,” Lehberger said. “Building bridges was something that we felt we could do if our local leaders and representatives were available and willing to join us, and thankfully they were!”

“We think it was a good first discussion about one of the worst days in our country and are truly grateful to Senator Hwang, Rep. Hughes, First Selectman Bindelglass, Selectwoman Sogofsky, and Superintendent Dr. Harrison for their participation and transparency,” Wible said. “In the future, we plan to have more focused events with more time for community questions and discussion.”

What happened at the Capitol could further divide Easton, but the two women also believe it can begin to bring the community together to engage in the difficult and uncomfortable conversations necessary to start a more positive trajectory.

“Devon and I wanted to do something so we can build a resilient, healthy and caring community,” Lehberger said. “I think it went better than I anticipated. I wasn’t sure how transparent or forthcoming everyone would be with their viewpoints (after the shock of this week), and I was pleasantly surprised with their candor and vulnerability.”

Lehberger said she especially appreciated hearing from Dr. Harrison, as he is the newest to town leadership. “I can only imagine how hard it has been to carry the weight of our collective children’s educational needs and decisions during these incredibly difficult times. He hasn’t even seen the best of Easton or this community yet. I hope he will in the near future.”

The two women said they are grateful to all of the other representatives as well, many of whom they are quite familiar with through PTO or other committees.

“I hope that the newer residents of Easton will watch the recording if they missed it and take a moment to learn more about who is entrusted to make decisions for the betterment of our community,” Lehberger said.

The next Come Together Easton event will be a community conversation with the Freedom Riders on Feb. 4 at 7:30p.m. This virtual discussion will focus on how what is happening in our country today parallels what life was like in the early 1960s, the importance of peaceful protest, and how systemic racism negatively impacts our country and community.

A recording of the the first discussion can be viewed below:

Jan. 13 “Come Together Easton” panel discussion hosted by Devon Wible.

Watch this space for details closer to the Feb. 4 event.

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By Nancy Doniger

Nancy Doniger worked as a journalist for three decades and was a founding editor of the nonprofit Easton Courier in partnership with the School of Communications, Media & the Arts at Sacred Heart University (SHU). She served two years as executive member and is now a contributing editing of the Easton Courier. She was a former managing editor of Hometown Publications and Hersam Acorn Newspapers covering Connecticut's Fairfield and New Haven counties. She was a correspondent for the Connecticut section of The New York Times from 1995 until the section was discontinued in 2006. Over the years she edited The Easton Courier, The Monroe Courier, The Bridgeport News and other community newspapers. She taught news editing as an adjunct professor at SHU and served as coordinator and member of the Community Assets Network for the Easton, Redding and Region 9 schools. She was a member of the Newtown Community Center Commission, member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), board member of the New England Newspaper and Press Association (NENPA), and past president and board member of the Barnard Club of Connecticut. She has won awards for her writing from SPJ and NENPA.